As expected, the Delaware General Assembly killed legislation that would have up to three percent of a Kent County lodging tax earmarked for the DE Turf athletic fields complex.
It came after a firestorm erupted over the role of the sponsor of the legislation, State Sen. Trey Paradee. Paradee’s brother was on the board of DE Turf and was listed as a developer of property near the complex. His sister is a lawyer on the team that reviews legislation.
Critics were also upset that the tax would go to the nonprofit private field complex in a county without a large parks system. It remains unclear on whether Kent County will seek a revised tax proposal. DE Turf will look for other sources of support.
DE Turf had earlier been the recipient of an interchange on Route 1, despite the lack of existing development in the immediate area.
In requesting that that the General Assembly overturn the legislation, Trey Paradee took aim at the News Journal,which was hyper-aggressive in pushing the conflict of interest angle.
We may never know for certain, but the brouhaha may have contributed to a decision by House and Senate leadership to set a deadline on consideration of legislation that does not affect the state budget. Some House and Senate members complained that the measure slipped through the process without adequate study.
If the DE Turf battle leads to an end to last-minute legislation Paradee may have done Delaware a great favor.
The larger question is the wisdom of counties and cities levying a lodging tax that now runs as high as 11 percent.
The state already levies an eight percent tax, with a portion going to convention and tourism promotion and beach replenishment. Counties and cities pocket the additional percentage
We learned this week that tourism had a great year in 2018, with 2019 expected to be equally strong.
The 11 percent tax that is now in effect in New Castle County and other jurisdictions is certain to lead to slower growth as hotels become less competitive when the tax is passed along to patrons.
The argument that other jurisdictions levy similar taxes rings hollow, since much of Delaware lacks the year-around attractions of a Philadelphia or Washington, DC. The tax will be a drag on off-season tourism and is likely to slow down or stop job creation in a key industry.
Enjoy your Thursday.
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